Small steps but now Scots need to back up win

Picture by JANE BARLOW. 8th February 2014. Rugby :: Scotland versus England, at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, in the 2014 RBS 6 Nations tournament. Pictured is Scotland's Duncan Weir.
Picture by JANE BARLOW. 8th February 2014. Rugby :: Scotland versus England, at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, in the 2014 RBS 6 Nations tournament. Pictured is Scotland's Duncan Weir.

The relief when Duncan Weir dropped that goal in Rome to win the match for Scotland was clear to see.

The Scots had just ended a miserable run of results and triumphed in Italy for the first time since 2006.

Stuart Cameron. Rugby Pundit.

Stuart Cameron. Rugby Pundit.

They also bagged two tries, both scored by former Duns and Selkirk player Alex Dunbar. All of a sudden, for the thousands of Scottish fans who had travelled to Rome for the match, the journey back would be far more bearable.

For Italy, for the second time in two games against Scotland, they lost right at the end of the match in encounters they should have won.

So what about Scotland’s performance? The first half was not good at all, conceding most of the 11 penalties they accumulated in the whole match. The scrum was a mess and, to be honest, the hosts were not exactly firing on all cylinders themselves. Going in at the break at 13-3 to Italy – and all the points scored by Tommy Allen, the former Scotland Under-20 fly half, to rub things in even more – it was not looking good for the Scottish team. At least the line-out was functioning at last and the presence of Richie Gray certainly seemed to make a difference.

The second half was a much better affair, sparked by Dunbar’s first try on 53 minutes; again much relief over the fact that Scotland had finally crossed the try line for the first time since they scored against Japan in the autumn. When he went over for his second touchdown he engraved his name in Scottish rugby history. But he wouldn’t be the only Scot to make his mark on the game, as Weir’s winning drop kick will be a moment the youngster will never forget.

So lots to be happy about for the moment, but, as the well used-cliché goes, it will all mean nothing if Scotland cannot back it up in the last two games of the Six Nations against France at Murrayfield and Wales in Cardiff.

Two weeks then until the Murrayfield encounter and plenty of work to be done. The jury is still out and the two games left will be bigger tests than the one on Saturday.

So will there be many changes? To be honest I cannot see Scott Johnson tinkering with the backs too much, although Chris Cusiter did make an impact when he came on in the second half and will be challenging for Greig Laidlaw’s place. The scrum is still a concern and being competitive in that area against the Welsh and French packs will be vital if Scotland are to repeat their win in Rome.